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A 20-0 avalanche to start the second half enabled the Barton College men’s basketball team to crush the visiting Coker Cobras, 104-69, inside Wilson Gym on Monday night.
Initially, the Cobras’(2-7) full-court defense stifled the Bulldogs (9-3) into 43-percent shooting as a team. Barton of Conference Carolinas trailed for the majority of the first half until a push gave the Bulldogs a 42-41 lead at halftime.
“The mentality in the locker room is always the same, like we know what kind of basketball that we can play,” sophomore center Blake Burdack said. “We felt that the defense we played in the first half wasn’t the defense we knew we could play. We were up for challenging ourselves to play better defense after the half, and it reflected the score in the end.”
The Bulldogs came out hot and dropped 20 points in less than five minutes to take a 62-41 lead. The run was sparked by junior guard Michael Boykin’s eight points to start the half. Boykin finished with 12 points.
“I know once I get myself going, it’s going to be a pretty good thing,” Boykin said. “Everybody knows to get me the ball, and I’m going to make a play and do something with it to help us.”
It was a special night for the Clinton native, because he was playing his first cousin senior point guard Jaylan Robertson. Robertson, the only North Carolina native on the South Atlantic Conference Cobras, attended Raleigh Word of God, while Boykin attended Fayetteville Trinity Christian. Boykin said the two have faced off plenty of times, but Boykin could never beat his older cousin, which made tonight’s victory sweeter.
“It was jaw dropping, because I never thought it would happen, and it was also exhilarating because who wouldn’t want to play against their family and have some bragging rights at the cookout?” Boykin said. “Him being older than me, it’s always like looking up to a big brother or something, so I always wanted to beat him but I never could. Finally I got the chance to beat him and I’m going to brag about it.”
Robertson finished with two points, while Khalil Halls led the Cobras in scoring with 19. Roy Ellis also had 13 off the bench.
But Barton’s bench, for the sixth straight game outscored its opponents’ bench, with the Bulldogs outpacing Coker 57-37. The Bulldogs’ bench was led by Jake Kakar’s game-high 19 points and sophomore Isaiah Reddish’s first career double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Barton head coach Ron Lievense said the bench is so deep because the team has eight starters that could rotate in and out of the lineup.
“We’re just going with whoever’s playing well right now,” Lievense said. “From the very beginning of the year, we told our guys that we got eight starters. We got eight guys that are really close in ability, and that’s how we’re going to play.”
Barton had 12 of its 15 players that play score, including Hunt High product Shemar Hudson, who scored two points and had an assist in three minutes of action. Senior Bobby Stenburg had 12 points, five rebounds and seven assists while Burdack had 15 points and 12 rebounds.
The Bulldogs shot 59 percent from the field and 53 percent from the 3-point line after halftime. Barton seems to have broken out of the funk that plagued it in the first two conference games, with two home wins in three days. Lievense said part of the funk has been the amount of games the team has played before the Christmas break with one more to go before the break.
“We’re to the point where our guys want to have a break, and we have one game left then we go on break so we really need to keep them locked in for one more game,” Lievense said. “We’re playing a really great team on Wednesday, so we have to have a really great effort to beat that team.”
The Bulldogs welcome in Tusculum on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.